Just before 3p.m. on any given Tuesday afternoon, Rockford School District 205 buses can be seen going about their daily routine outside of Auburn High School. A routine however, that could see major changes for the men and women behind the wheel.
“It’s unsettling, it’s not about kids at all, it’s a distraction,” said AFSCME Council 31 Representative Edward Sadlowski. “The board needs to come to it’s senses and do right by children,” he added, upset that the Rockford Public School District is considering bids from a third party to outsource jobs for bus drivers.
He thinks if done, it will cost the district more. “This is a more costly proposition, outsourcing and privatization of Rockford resources to Cincinnati and the United Kingdom,” he said.
The RPS Board held a public meeting Tuesday night to hear from representatives of bus provider First Student. No deal has been set in stone, but School Board President Kenneth Scrivano thinks outsourcing might provide better service to students.
“If someone can meet our high expectations of quality service for transporting our students, and financially use the resources in a better way than we will take a look at it,” Scrivano said.
The District already uses outsourcing to transport special needs students, with a company called Sunrise. They say the idea for more outsourcing has nothing to do with a labor disputes between the district and bus drivers.
Parent and AFSCME Union member Christy Gutowski thinks that before making a decision on outsourcing, the District needs to improve on the system they already have. “It’s just another third person, where as it’s just better for us to deal with the District and the drivers,” she said.
The board is taking into account the options presented by First Student and plans to make a decision in June. Another public meeting will be held May 16th for bids being made regarding nutrition workers.